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Obama's deficit plan: Let the debate begin

Finally, the president has put forward a plan to substantially cut the deficit. It contrasts sharply with that of House Republican Ryan. Now a full debate can begin.

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In Washington, it seems as if everyone has a plan to reduce federal deficits and the pileup of debt that yearly deficits create. Today, President Obama finally offered his plan, a contrast to that of House Republican Paul Ryan. Now a full debate can begin.

And what a debate it will be. The clash over federal spending just for the remainder of this year went to the 11th hour last week, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.

The next political trigger will come when the United States bumps up against its debt limit of $14.3 trillion next month, and Congress faces a vote to extend it. House Speaker John Boehner has said Republicans will not increase the debt ceiling without getting “something really, really big” to reduce the deficit.

Washington is quaking over this next fight (one senator characterizes it as “Armageddon”), and the budget battles for 2012 and beyond. As Mr. Obama said, the debate is about more than “just numbers on a page.”

It’s about competing visions of government and how that affects individual lives. It’s about the health of the American and global economy. And, as politicians well know, it’s also about the coming elections.

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